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Virginia 2nd district candidate Rigell attacked on cash for clunkers and Obama donation

UPDATE 1:27 PM: It turns out this week won't be all bad for Scott Rigell. Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) is expected to endorse Rigell's campaign at a Thursday press conference, according to a report in the Norfolk Virginian-Pilot. McDonnell's daughter and sister have already recorded video endorsements for Rigell.

ORIGINAL ITEM: It hasn't been the best Wednesday so far for Scott Rigell, as two different stories in the national media have taken shots at the apparent frontrunner in the Republican race to face Rep. Glenn Nye (D) in Virginia's 2nd district.

First, USA Today took note of the ongoing debate surrounding the participation of car dealerships owned by Rigell in the federal "cash for clunkers" program. Rigell is one of four Republican car dealers around the country who are running for Congress and being attacked by conservatives for profiting from cash for clunkers, which many on the right criticized then and now as a "bailout" of the auto industry and an unwise intervention into the free market. (Rigell, for his part, says he disliked the program too but owed it to his customers to offer them the deal if it was available.)

The clunkers controversy has been bubbling in the press in the Hampton Roads area for weeks, but its mention in the high-circulation USA Today will surely add more fuel to what had been just a local fire.

Human Events doesn't have the same readership as USA Today, but the conservative magazine and Web site is widely read on the right. So the face that the publication also fired an arrow at Rigell Wednesday can't be pleasing to the Republican's campaign.

In this story, the issue is Rigell's giving -- specifically, a $1,000 donation to Barack Obama's presidential campaign in March 2008. As with cash for clunkers, this issue has also been raised before. Rigell has been dubbed a "RINO" (Republican in name only) by one of his primary opponents for the donation, which he has explained by saying his real goal was to stop Hillary Clinton from winning the Democratic nomination.

Rigell has the most money and the most big-name endorsements of any of the GOP candidates in the 2nd district race, so it will likely take more than just a couple of news stories to cripple his bid. But he probably wouldn't mind if the national press focused on something other than the criticisms being leveled by his opponents.

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By Ben Pershing  |  May 12, 2010; 10:36 AM ET
Categories:  2010 Virginia Congressional Races , Ben Pershing , Scott Rigell  | Tags: Barack Obama presidential campaign 2008, Hampton Roads, Republican Party, Scott Rigell, Virginia  
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